Who Cares?!

Sometimes I think I’m not supposed to hurt, that things aren’t supposed to trouble me, so I often don’t allow people to see the hurts I endure.  A misunderstanding, an unkind word, a hateful deed:  We simply hide them in our sock drawer and move along.  Who would care anyway?  What would it matter?  There are bigger crimes, bigger hurts, louder tears.  But every time I open the sock drawer, there they are.  I slam it shut and scream in my mind, “Who would care?!”  And I answer my question with cynicism, “Who? Like, a human?”

A friend said to me today, “It’s okay, I’m not afraid of tears. You can talk.”  Ah! He may not be afraid of tears, but God knows I am.  I struggle to regain composure and try to speak without squeaking … or sobbing.  I ask if we can talk later and hang up the phone.  Buried consequences rise in my throat like a tidal wave and my body trembles under the weight of grief, sorrow, misunderstanding and shame.

We were not meant for sin or grief; we were not meant to hurt.  Hurt comes from sin, and sin is something far more spiritually connected than we could ever imagine, connected through insidious forces we can neither see nor touch, let alone understand.  And when it makes its way into the human soul it can hardly be rectified without a bigger and more authoritative Spiritual Power.

My eyes fall on Mark 1:23-28.  Jesus had just healed the demon-possessed man.  In those days, demon possession was a very widespread thing and had many Jewish legends and folklore attached to it.  One noted historian, Harnack said, “The whole earth was a living hell.” We really don’t see that kind of widespread demon possession today, and that’s not the focus of my note; however, what I came to realize about the demon-possessed man is that he knew he was possessed.  Jesus could not cure him unless he admitted his trouble.  I think that’s why the story is in the Bible.  We must assume the reality of our disease before we can ask for a cure.

I open my sock drawer once again, and there are the hurts buried among the mis-matched.  I place them on the dresser and slowly expose them to Jesus.  Through tears and sobs, I admit the pain, the sin, the grief and the sorrow.  Slowly they fade and I am renewed and strengthened by His power.  And I realize that it isn’t the responsibility of any one person to meet us in these places.  When we assume that man should do what only God can do then we put man before God and we will always be disappointed.

“Who would care?”  I answer my question now with assurance.  My eyes fill with tears, but these are tears of joy which come from a new sense of maturity and hope. Jesus cares, and Jesus stands ready to cure the heart that admits the disease.

Lord, thank you for allowing me to give you these things which hurt so deeply.  I share them with you because you understand with great depth and clarity and you offer comfort with abundant mercy and loving-kindness.  My hope is in you and my heart is strengthened by your love. My cup is full to overflowing with this joy. Jesus, take me and use me as your light to shine your glory. I love you, Lord.

Abide With Me (MP Jones)


Breakfast

Fasting and Praying for Haiti

My 19yo son trotted downstairs with a plate in his hand containing a homemade burger on a bagel with a slice of cheese.  It’s only 11:57 p.m. and I wanted to wait until midnight before I took a bite.  So we chatted a bit about how it felt to be hungry.  In our home we have two refrigerators (with freezers), one large freezer and two pantries.  There are only four of us living here but I frequently host people in my home, as well as randomly give food to the poor.  And we still seem to have a constant supply of food.

Among many things spiritual or otherwise, fasting reminds us how much we have and how much others do without.  It reminds us that there are people everywhere who do without, and even if they have food, we oftentimes eat like kings compared to their meager meals.  The World Health Organization breaks up categories of hunger this way:  one-third eat well, one-third are malnourished and one-third is starving. Since you began reading this article, at least 200 people have died of starvation and over four million will die this year.  I am sure that with the recent catastrophe in Haiti, those numbers are on the rise.

It is difficult knowing why we are here and they are there; why we are among the well-fed in a world where two-third struggle and starve.  But I am convinced that while God allows some of us to have comforts others do not, He certainly does not mean that we covet these comforts and keep them as idols.  Jesus himself commands us in Matthew to share our crust of bread, for if we have done so to our brethren, we have done so to our Lord.  I wonder how many saints working among the inured and poor in Haiti have shared their lunch, their water, and gone without for the sake of the starving.

While we pondered these things, my food sits and waits.  There is no one to give it to, and to reject it would mean waste. But I remembered that just tonight a homeless lady I call Mary sat in my family room as I served her some stew, listened to her struggles and gave her some advice about her son.  She happily ate every morsel as we visited.  Somehow food brings us together.  It’s a universal thing we all need.  In the book, A Christmas Carol, we read as Scrooge eats his meal alone, night after night.  Charles Dickens not only paints a picture of a selfish and greedy man, but a very lonely man.  Food not only keeps us living, but it keeps us linked to one another in fellowship.  And as we deny food for the sake of one starving or for the sake of prayer, we are linked in a truly spiritual sense to our Heavenly Father.

My son and I closed out the day by praying together for Haiti and giving God the thanks and glory that He truly desires this nation be fruitful once again.  We look forward to the rebuilding with joy and hope.  May the prayers continue forth; may the giving never stop; may the hands and feet not grow weary.

It’s midnight.  Time to break the fast.


Do You Love Me?

I am reminded this week of Christ’s words to Peter just before He left him for the last time. “Do you love me?” He asked. It seemed almost rhetorical. “Yes,” Peter said. I’m sure Peter didn’t expect Jesus to ask again, and again. And the third time totally and completely touched this man’s heart to the very core. It riveted him.  One can nearly feel the emotional weight of the question–of Peter’s grief that although he sinned, this God-man was willing to reinstate the love and sow into Peter’s heart the seeds of mercy and forgiveness.

It’s the same question He asks of us over and over again. These challenges in our lives are not without purpose; not without reason; not without response. They are set in place so that we will be frustrated by them and find our broken hearts at a crossroad. Then He reinstates us with His simple, but profound words.

“Do you love me?” He asks.

It is rhetorical. Christ knows the answer. He wants us to know it and to own it. He wants our hearts to be His.

“Yes Jesus, I do. Please show me how to love you better.”

My answer is humble and simple, but in it bears the weight of responsibility.  It’s time to feed the sheep.


A New Attitude of Gratitude

“Give thanks in all circumstances!” I Thessalonians 5:17

My friend, Paul Daniels, is a high school teacher in a nearby town.  He sent me this note on Monday, and I was so inspired by it that I asked if I could post it to my blog.  I pray it inspires you, too, especially during our season of Thanksgiving.  Paul writes:

This afternoon I translated a thank you note from a 7 year-old girl in Burkina Faso who had received a shoebox from a CAL elementary student via Operation Christmas Child.  Anne Wegert wanted to use the letter in elementary chapel.  Here’s the letter.

June 5, 2009

I have the great pleasure of hearing from you.  My name is Guedraogo Safiatou.  I am in an elementary school class in the village of Toba in the department (county) Yaba of the province (state) Mayah.

I am the oldest girl of a family of farmers.  I have 5 older brothers and 5 younger brothers.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all the wonderful gifts that you gave us here in Toba.

I want to send my greetings to all your family and friends in America.  I hope that your friendship will continue forever if God wills it so.

Thank you!

Guedraogo Safiatou

I got to thinking as I returned the letter back to the elementary office.  In saying thank you, Guedraogo had spent about $2 between the cost of paper, stamps and the photo.  It doesn’t sound like much to us until one realizes average person’s yearly income in Burkina Faso is about $320.  She spent a small fortune or about 0.6% of the average Burkinabe’s income.  For one of us to say thank you in an equivalent manner as this little girl, it would be $196 (about 0.6 % of $31,800, the average US worker’s income).

It’s kind of humbling.  Would I say thank you if it cost me $196?  And how often have I forgotten to say thank you?

Towards a new attitude of gratitude,

Paul

“Give thanks in all circumstances!”  I Thessalonians 5:17


The Stones will Cry Out

stones

But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if they become silent, the stones will cry out!

As most of us who run in circles of mission work have heard, there is great need for prayer and mission work in the 10/40 Window.  This is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude containing enormous amounts of people who have never heard the gospel.  Many things keep them from hearing such as location, anti-Christian religion, law, oppression, etc.  These are people who range from the nomads to the wealthy, the young and old.  They are part of large systems of belief which hinder the spread of the gospel, sometimes by their own culture of religion (e.g. folklore, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc.), sometimes by oppressive political systems and sometimes by war and bloodshed.  In any case, it is an all-out war between the rulers of darkness and the Lord of the Heavens.  The 10/40 window is a spiritual blockade, pushing against the Gospel and keeping its inhabitants in darkness.

The vision in Luke 19:30-40 is powerful and profound.  Jesus has secured a donkey to go into Jerusalem, and as He headed toward the city, the crowd was overjoyed. It says, “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  Well this didn’t sit well with the Pharisees, and they were insulted that the king who comes in the name of the Lord would come seated on a donkey.  They turned to Christ and asked him to quiet the crowd.  Instead, Jesus pointed out that even if He did quiet the crowd then the stones would cry out!

I am praying for friends in a nation of the 10/40 window who are working as missionaries, feeding the hungry, ministering to the poor.  Ethnic cleansing is beginning to occur in the region where they work, and my friends may be forced to leave or they will be killed.  As I was in prayer over them recently, it occurred to me that whatever the outcome, they have done well.  They have been obedient to God’s call on their lives and moved where He would have them work.  And whether they count it as loss or gain, God counts it all as gain.  And whether they go or are killed, we cannot deny the words of Christ that even the stones would cry out in their absence.

But these truths do not mean we mustn’t go, send others to go, pray or mobilize people under the commission of Christ.  After all, Jesus did not squelch the praises in His name and the joy surrounding His presence.  He simply stated a penetrating truth that even if He did quiet the crowd then His very creation would magnify and glorify Him!  Jesus was profoundly stating that God will accomplish His plan to redeem the world and bring glory and honor to His name whether man obediently participates or not.  Isn’t it incredible that even though He doesn’t need us to carry out His plan, that He chooses us be involved and allows us to participate?  How humbling to part of this great movement.

The oppressor of this world can push back the gospel from the 10/40 window only so long. He and his dominion can have spiritual stronghold for a time only allotted by God himself.  They are bound by scripture, and the end of the story tells us that they will one day be cast into the lake of fire for eternity.  While they give a false impression that they have control over these nations in the 10/40 window, we know they in fact are only biding their time.  They know the end of the story, too.  They know their time is limited.

So this knowledge calls us to a greater awareness of the world in which we live and the places where the Gospel is incredibly thwarted.  Our response is prayer, intentional and deliberate prayer.  And whether that prayer leads us to go, send or mobilize, it is still powerful and paramount to any action we might take to further an awareness of Christ and His Supremacy in the 10/40 window.  If you are not praying for these nations and these peoples, then you must start right away.  There is no greater need for prayer in the 10/40 window than now.

I’ve listed some resources below to help you get started.  These are just a couple, and while there are plenty more, I find these ministries to be consistent, dedicated and solid in their research.  If you are using other means to pray for the 10/40 window, please comment below.  I’d love to know what other people are doing to pray forth the Gospel to the darkest places of our world.

Beverly Peagues’ entire life is devoted to the 10/40 Window. There she does an incredible job to keep us all informed politically, religiously and prayerfully on the countries in the 10/40 Window. If you join her email list, you will receive a new country to pray for each day. You can also download a monthly calendar called the WIN Reporter which highlights two countries per day for prayer. The web address is www.win1040.com.  Click “subscribe” to join the mailing list.

There is also the Global Prayer Digest which you can purchase via subscription for $12/year. If you cannot subscribe they also publish the prayers online each day. GPD focuses on people groups in the 10/40 window. The focus for November is South Asia. http://www.global-prayer-digest.org/

If you’d like to get your group interested in people groups, please download this 20-minute activity that a friend and I developed for our Perspectives classes. Though it was specifically created to help our adult students overcome the inhibition of doing a research paper as part of the course syllabus, I find that it’s also a great way to promote awareness and prayer in any venue. http://www.box.net/PerspectivesPeopleGroups

I pray that God will expose you to new ways to pray for the nations of the 10/40 window. I encourage you to create cell groups in your church or school which will commit time each week to focus on nations and people groups in the 10/40 window. On that note, I am working on creating a curriculum of sorts to help people initialize prayer groups for the unreached, and will load it here when complete.

Grace, peace and thanksgiving to you and your household. May you be blessed as you walk obediently with our Lord Jesus Christ.


Responsibility of Joy

I have become less enamored with church. We are part of a small, home church community, and even that has been less than satisfactory. What I’ve come to realize is that nothing is perfect this side of Heaven. And by perfect I mean complete. The church itself is a walk of sanctification. As a body moves when the joints and members move with it, it can also be hindered when the joints and members are hindered. Interestingly, as we physically age, our joints and members cooperate less if we fail to exercise and eat well. Hence, the church. Unforeseen problems occur. Frustration ensues. People don’t cooperate. We begin to see that Advil temporarily cures the body’s ailment just as a powerful Bible study or a featured speaker cures the church. Yet this is the place where my faith has increased ten-fold; where God has exposed Truth in such a profound and uncanny way that one cannot deny the existence of the Spirit among the brethren.

So my admiration moves out of the church as an institution, to church as a living movement of the Holy Trinity working in accordance with the Believers for the cause of God’s everlasting kingdom.

I no longer walk away saying, “Wow, Pastor Edward had a great message today,” I now walk away saying, “Wow, God’s Word is alive and working in my life and the lives of my brothers and sisters.” I now admire, cherish and expose the work of the Holy Spirit among us. Becoming less-enamored with institutionalized church is a higher call of the mature Believer as long as we reposition our admiration on God and His work in the body of believers we call church.

But that can sometimes be tricky. People are part of the church, and I find that agape and phileo love is increasingly difficult. When Holy Truth is exposed it comes with itself a particular level of responsibility. I call it the responsibility of joy: and that is love. What’s not to love about our church members? Ah, when they challenge our teachings; when they don’t respect our work; when they question God; when they refuse to think outside the box; when they exchange the magnificent for the trivial, and so on. And then I realize it’s ME with the problem. I blindly enter into these relationships with a certain level of expectation, and when my expectations aren’t met, I grow increasingly weary of the individual. Foolishness sets in and my heart is hardened; no love can penetrate; the humbleness of the Holy Spirit is my only cure. Time begs a response. I have a choice to ignore or–-once again-–be sanctified by Truth. Hebrews 12:4-6 is a bitter but hopeful reminder.

Of these things I find that intimacy with Christ and living missionally is the cure–-at least for me. And that means I must intentionally spend time getting to know my Savior through His walk, His teachings, His expectations and His commands. Then I must share this Truth with others with no worldly expectation. As a matter of fact, my only expectation in sharing Truth is persecution–for we are truly savages in our core. In serving, evangelizing or teaching, I nearly expect a savage response! Anything above that is God’s full and complete Glory. None of it belongs to me. And sanctification has its fulfillment in God’s glory when we not only recognize that truth, but live for it.

Joy has its rewards, but it also carries with it a higher level of responsibility than we might ordinarily be comfortable with. Sadly, most people would rather settle for a complicated and shallow life of worldly happiness.

Father, may I be your servant who is enamored by you alone, understands the responsibility of joy and willingly shares these precious Truths with the brethren and savages alike.  Save me from my worldly desires which ultimately rob me of joy.  My dear Heavenly Father, draw me closer still.


Faith Without Works

hand reachingWhat use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:14-17

In these verses James shares with us an important element of our faith. The outward result of our faith is works (e.g. missions). In his book, Victorious Living, E. Stanely Jones writes: “But a man may have an intellectual belief in everything in the creed of the churches and not have faith. Faith is an adventure of the spirit, a going out of the whole inner life in response to something we believe to be supremely worthwhile.”

Is this a challenge to us today? Are we being called to literally exercise our faith with good works? And what is the result of we don’t? Jesus gives us a warning in Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” And James poses a rhetorical but chilling question, “Can that faith save him?” -James 2:14

Our conclusion would be that this faith is useless and brings no results to the kingdom of Christ, and I dare say, cannot lead to salvation as James 2:26 states: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

Our faith begs a response, and our response must be missional; works must then follow. When we go out in faith, Christ steps in and shines His light through us to a lost and broken world.

So I ask you, brethren, is your faith alive?


Watching the World through Glass Panes

WindowWorld

I’ve grown dissatisfied with this view of the world.

I have a huge window in my dining room which gives me a big view of the street upon which I live. I like to stand at that window and peer at the world early in the morning. A jogger passes by, a car speeds past, a stray dog sniffs something in the yard and moves along – all without any sound, all without any interaction with the people behind the glass.

It’s the very window where I watched my children grow up, remembering my daughter playing safari in the tall grasses of the field across from us—now inhabited with a house—where, donned in a bathing suit, a bicycle helmet and fuzzy winter boots, she single-handedly played the part of six safari animals. To this day her imagination never ceases to amaze and amuse me. It’s the window where I saw a man I did not know carry my son’s limp body across my front lawn, a moment I’ll never forget where time stood still and I briefly thought, “can I endure this?” The next moment revealed the unspeakable gratitude of my heart when I looked into my son’s beautiful blue eyes, full of life, but slightly traumatized by the daring bicycle stunt gone awry. He was out playing again an hour later and all his buddies thought he was the coolest. I think he still is.

But I’ve grown dissatisfied with this view of the world. Through it are now a new generation of children, not my own, and it only serves to remind me of a happy chapter in my life which is slowly fading away. And while the children are lovely, the world never changes and my heart grows increasingly dissatisfied with this view.

Twelve years later, I find myself standing at the window in the dark of night, waiting for one of my kids to arrive safely home from their evening with friends so that I can go to bed and sleep peacefully, knowing they are once again safe. Yet as I lay my head on the pillow I am reminded that these windows are only our views on the world, not a fortress against danger, and I contemplate that against a heart which leans toward danger.

The confines of my home provide me no satisfaction, no security of what lies out there in the world. Yet my nomadic heart grows restless as the years drone on and I find myself with the insatiable desire to traverse these lands outside my window; meet people I’ve never met; learn a language; feed and water a human soul; open another’s heart to truths and promises he never knew existed; and unashamedly give God glory for the light of wisdom.

My window has moved to the pane of my computer where I travel distant lands using the wide world of the Internet (thanks, Al). I see smiling faces, battered women, children in refugee camps. I see people helping people and planes falling out of the sky. I watch in horror as men overcome men in shallow conquest, their victorious smiles last but a moment as they lie awake at night knowing it could have been them.

I read stories of churches and temples being torn down in the name of a false governmental idea; women beaten and jailed for talking to a man who isn’t her spouse, young boys and girls taken captive to a most vile and sinister ring of human trafficking known to mankind. I listen to mp3 links as women passionately bear their shame for abortions they now regret, their gripping stories compelling young women everywhere to keep the child. I watch videos with unclear and unfounded statistics about the intervention of anti-Christian religion in the United States, a religion where we might well see the second wave of Christianity. And then a new window becomes my focus. It stands wide and narrow but it also stands firm against Truth. It wants no part of my culture. And I hardly blame it.

Our world is changing; no one can doubt that. Our view of the world has become smaller; no one will argue that. And these views open us to something very frightening, disturbing and sobering. My hand reaches for the blinds. My first instinct is to pull the curtain, lock the window and retreat to my vain and selfish desires. How easy it is to passionately strive for worldly things and at the same time block out the world while doing it. We rush toward Wall Street while the child starves. We have pulled the curtain on love. We forget from Whom we come; for Whom we exist.

But I stand and watch because it is all I can do right now. Yet each day I find a new Truth which gives me solid ground upon which to stand, a mission behind the mission of educating the uneducated into the precarious world of the 10/40 window—a world without a savior—a world of bloodshed, oppression, marginalization and torment masked by a false sense of peace and tight-fisted governmental systems.

These are the places that draw my heart the most. And when the marginalized and oppressed smile at me through these panes of glass, I smile in return because I know their smiles are genuine, brotherly and loving. I want to be a part of that. I want to see the sunrise of their smile brought forth by authentic joy and utter Truth. I want to see their light of understanding as they read the Word and know Him for the first time. I want to call them my brother in the language they understand and stand hand-in-hand with them in grateful prayer to our Lord and King.

These windows on the world show us harvests ready for the harvesting. We cannot deny, we cannot grow complacent, and we cannot turn and judge our neighbor. We are to become so entrenched in the harvest that our response is not apathy and indifference but fervent and passionate prayer for the workers—the brethren called forth by none other than Christ Himself to come and harvest the fields.

Lift your blinds, O man! Open your curtains and unlock the window of your soul to the sacrificial love of Christ and stoop down to feed the hungry child. Go visit your field, ready for the harvest, and bend your knee to the lowly. For as you do He will lift you up and make your work a spectacular glory so all man can see and no one can doubt Whom you serve and from Whom your light shines. It’s time to open the window and see the world through the eyes of Christ.


Three Strand Prayer

For nearly eight years I have been meeting every Tuesday morning with the same two women for coffee and prayer.  We began meeting in a little church, then we moved to a coffee shop. When the coffee shop grew more popular—threatening our attention—we would fellowship in the coffee shop first and then pray in the car!  Now we meet in one of our homes which affords us much privacy and plenty of less expensive coffee.

The longevity of this little prayer group astounds me because it’s something that I would never have expected.  Not one of us have moved, and if something comes up to threaten the committed day, we simply switch to another day (I think we began meeting on Wednesday mornings).  One day we realized the power behind our regular gatherings was in our number.  One of us brought up Ecclesiastes 4:12 giving our little circle a name: The Three-Strand Prayer Group.  Slowly ponder the words in this powerful verse:

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (NLT)

By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.  Can you round up a third?  A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. (MSG)

Because we are not islands unto ourselves, we humbly and willingly submit to the fact that we are spiritually protected as we gather in threes.  Additionally, three people have more power to affect the Kingdom simply because they are not easily separated, broken or snapped.

On further study, we realized that our identity is found in the acrostic GRACE:

Grace toward each other
Reverence toward God
Accountability in the Word
Confidentiality in words shared
Encouragement through prayer

Without a commitment to GRACE we cannot work as a vessel of the Holy Spirit as interceders for each other. We would not love one another or draw each other to love our LORD. We would engage in petty arguments and judgments and turn them into our idols and castles.  We would cease in our upward movement. And in realizing the power of our group we also realize an adversary who seeks to devour the power. Therefore, we pray for protection, ask God to keep us committed and give Him the glory, honor and thanksgiving for this little group.  It’s nearly eight years since we began. We pray for 80 more.

Ready to start a Three Strand Prayer Group? Following are 10 guidelines to get you started.

  • Pray that God would lead you to one friend with whom you can begin praying.
  • When two of you are meeting and praying, ask God to reveal a third.
  • Be flexible. Weekly meetings that work in one season or location may not work in another.  Expect some change and be willing to work through it.
  • Be tenacious. If a friend shows signs of pulling away, talk to him/her and find out the problem.
  • Be accountable.  Hold one another (and yourself) toward higher accountability through biblical truths.
  • Be trustworthy.  Never, never, never repeat things spoken during prayer time. Confidentiality is of utmost importance.
  • Be reverent.  Always take time to revere God, magnify His name, pray power for His kingdom.
  • Be honoring. Honor not only each other but other people in our lives. A Three Strand Prayer Group is not a gripe session about our spouse or children.
  • Be honest. Trust will take time so be honest if you can’t share. Praying for an unspoken need is just as powerful as praying for a spoken one.
  • Be focused. Schedule any Bible study or service project at a different time. You will lose focus if it gets too complicated.  Remember, “if the devil can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.” Prayer is the last thing he wants you to accomplish!

Ways to pray:
None of these ways are right or wrong.  We’ve done them all and continue to change or mix as we feel led.

  • The Lord’s Prayer is the perfect model for prayer.  Simply stating a line and then praying application for it in each other’s lives is very powerful and humbling.
  • Meditate and pray through a Psalm or other scripture.
  • Sing a hymn before or after you pray. Don’t worry about music; you’d be surprised how much God loves to hear us sing even if we can’t sing.
  • Define a subject (via prayer requests) and everyone take turns praying, then move to the next subject, or assign each person a subject until all has been prayed.
  • Try praying without prayer requests. Simply bow your heads and pray as the Spirit leads you.

Finally, encourage others to start a Three Strand Prayer Group and commit to pray for the longevity of these groups.  God will multiply our prayers and gatherings when we do it in pursuit of Him and His glory.
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Interceding for the Home Educator

Intercessory prayer might be defined as loving our neighbour on our knees. -Charles Bent

Kids on LogI like to look at home education as a people movement. It started out with just a few people, and no one seemed threatened. It didn’t take long, however, before this little grass roots movement became an enormous group of people connected to each other for the same cause through a web of curriculum, lifestyle changes, new or revised laws, and No. 2 pencils. People took notice, and some were threatened. So support groups and conventions began springing up around the country linking people together in their goals, values and aspirations. Support included topical discussions on every subject from home educating multiple children to courtship to whether or not it’s okay to nurse a baby in public (it is—with propriety).

Unfortunately, however, I didn’t see much on prayer. More unfortunate is that I didn’t realize how much prayer was missing from these support networks, and from our own home environment. And I’m sure I haven’t noticed anything new nor am I proposing anything new; my goal here is simply awareness and a call to spur one another along in these good things.

Interceding for others isn’t a new concept. It traces back to Abraham who interceded for Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses who interceded for the captives in Egypt and all of the prophets who interceded for their people and cultures. As a matter of fact, part of the role of the prophets was to speak with God for the people of Israel. Most notable is when Isaiah prayed with King Hezekiah to save the nation from Assyria and the armies were suddenly turned back (Isaiah 36-39). No one can argue that God heard their prayers, their cries for help, and moved His hand for His own glory.

We also have examples from the New Testament beginning with Jesus who prayed protection for his followers and sought forgiveness for his captors. Jesus’ entire life was an example of One who intercedes for us for blessings, protection and forgiveness. Indeed, His whole life was an intercession, spanning the deep chasm caused by our rebellion. Paul prayed for the churches in Ephesus and Colossae and their people. He asked others to pray for them, and his devotion to prayer and intercession are timeless examples we still use today.

Intercession includes many things. We pray for safe travel, that others might come to know Christ, healing and health, childbirth or conception, wisdom, spiritual growth, marriages, blessings for others, etc. We pray for God’s mercy and grace, His discernment and for forgiveness. We intercede because we know that God is intimately involved with what is going on in our lives and we are called by Him to share in that involvement.

As a support group I feel we are called to a higher level of intercession. While it is important to pray individually, list in hand, during our private devotional time, it is equally important to pray as a group.

A friend recently pointed out the power of group prayer in The Acts of the Apostles. Chapter two depicts a compelling event we call, “Pentecost.” This event describes a culmination of all Jesus had done and said to be translated into action in the lives of the people. During this gathering, the Holy Spirit supernaturally entered into each person breaking them free from their bondage of religion and giving them a new, fresh calling. It was an incredible paradigm shift from a false trust in structures and laws to the Truth; the Holy Spirit now living in them. Similarly, when we gather together in prayer the Holy Spirit powerfully works in each of us both individually and as a group. He imparts a new, fresh calling; an insight into His work and vision to see things through the Word. We, together and individually, have become the temple of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16), to be used by Him for His own glory.

Interceding for our brothers and sisters in Christ through group prayer is utterly powerful. We lay a fortress that the devil cannot rupture or divide. We set up an invitation for a strong army of heavenly beings, a rising of the Holy Spirit and a manifestation of God’s promises and miracles. And when we engage in regular meetings of group-oriented prayer, we are accountable, encouraging and hopeful. We get to know one another deeply and intimately through prayer. We love deeper and cast aside our petty judgments. And we spur one another along in these callings, these hard places and these uncertain paths. What proceeds from these prayer groups is hardly imaginable, but always and unequivocally Kingdom work. Hence, it should be what tops our list of home education support. Because without prayer there is no real support. It simply vanishes when we least expect it and cannot be found when we need it most.

All across the country home educators are beginning a new season. If you are a part of this people movement, I challenge you to partner with others who can be a support system for you in prayer, encouragement and accountability. I also challenge you to remain tenacious and diligent not allowing the adversary to gain a foothold on this good work you are doing. Practice intercession for the sake and longevity of home education. It will not return void.

Tomorrow I will post a creative plan for organizing an intercessory prayer group; a model which can be replicated anywhere.